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Disaster management is a challenging but highly rewarding career. Disaster management coordinates the responses to major disasters such as floods, earthquakes, wildfires and terror attacks whilst minimising the impact on those affected. It is skilled work needing significant expertise. If you want to get into disaster management, there are a number of key requirements you should meet.
Complete Higher Education
The first requirement you will need to have to work in disaster management is a higher education degree. A bachelor’s degree is definitely needed to work in disaster management and most positions will need a masters as well. There are many university’s offering specific courses in disaster management and these should be your top choice if you want to get into the sector.
Disaster management is a highly skilled and difficult job. To work in disaster management, you need to learn the practical skills required as well as have an understanding of theory that underpin it. The qualifications provided by higher education are vital to getting the knowledge needed to work in disaster management.
Completing higher education by studying a degree related to disaster management gives you the formal qualification needed to get into emergency response work. Although doing a course specifically in disaster management is best, other related degrees that cover key areas of disaster response can also be beneficial when entering the sector.
Some of the top bachelor’s degrees disaster management include:
- Emergency Management Bachelors – Suny Empire State College
- Emergency Management (BA) – Kansas Wesleyan University
- Disasters, Displacement and Human Rights Concentration BA – University of Tennessee
- Bachelor of Emergency Management – Charles Sturt University
- BSc International Disaster Management & Humanitarian Response – Manchester University
There are also leading master’s degree in disaster management, including:
- MSc Disaster Management and Resilience (Online) – Coventry University
- MSc International Disaster Management – Manchester University
- Risk, Disaster and Resilience MSc – University College London (UCL)
- Crisis and Disaster Management MSc – University of Portsmouth
- MSc Disaster Management – Bournemouth University
- Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management MSc, by Distance Learning – University of Leicester
- MSc Crisis and Disaster Management – University of Lincoln
- Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management – Royal Roads University
- Master of Disaster and Emergency Response – Edith Cowen University
- MSc Disaster and Emergency Management – Nova Southeastern University
- MA Emergency and Disaster Management – American Public University
The next key requirement you need to get into disaster management is training. A higher education degree will give you a broad understanding of how disaster management operates, but you will need to supplement this with additional trainings. Trainings in disaster management can be taken in-person or online and are a key requirement to working in emergency response.
Being fully trained is an important requirement to working in disaster management. There are many trainings covering most areas of disaster management and emergency response. Some leading institutions offering in-person short-courses in disaster management include:
- Emergency Planning College
- Response Academy
- University of Copenhagen
- Queensland University of Technology
There are also online trainings in disaster management. These can be a great way to get the knowledge and skills needed for emergency work. Some top online disaster management courses are:
- Disaster Preparedness – University of Pittsburgh
- When Disaster Meets Conflict – University Rotterdam
- Disaster Risk Reduction: An Introduction – Coventry University
- Disaster Management (Online Certificate Course) – IFRC
- Disaster Risk Reduction and Management – Humanitarian Learning Centre
- Emergency and Disaster Training and Exercising: An Introduction – Coventry University
Disaster Management Online Courses
If you want to learn more about disaster management and what you need to work in the sector, the University of Pittsburgh offers an online short course in disaster preparedness. We think it’s the best beginner level course on disaster management. Follow the link to visit the course’s page.
For those interested in disaster risk reduction, we recommend the online course offered by Coventry University. It only takes around six hours to complete and provides a concise overview of the key concepts of disaster risk reduction. Click the link to be taken to the course page.
Disasters and conflicts often overlap. The online course When Disaster Meets Conflict by the Erasmus University Rotterdam is one of the best ways to learn how to respond to disasters even during times of war. We’ve linked to the course overview.
Focus on an Area of Specialism
Disaster management is made up of a large range of specialisms. Different areas of disaster management all work together to respond a crisis. To get into disaster management work it is good to know the different specialisms within the sector, and ideally pick one that you can train and build expertise in.
Within disaster and emergency response there are also different areas of specialism that respond to different types of crises. For example, forest fires require a different response to terror attacks. If you want to work in disaster management it’s good to focus on a specific area – get the education and training that focuses on this.
To begin your career in disaster management, it is good to get a strong foundation in the core theories and practices of emergency response. Once you have this understanding, perhaps built through a degree, then focus on gaining strong technical skills within a specific area of disaster management. This can be done through trainings or by gaining professional experience in disaster response.
Build Knowledge and Skills
One of the most important things you need to get into disaster management is the right knowledge and skills. Disaster management work requires technical expertise and agencies working in emergency response only hire staff with the necessary skills and experience. Degrees, trainings, work experience, internships and personal research are all good ways to gain knowledge and skills in disaster management.
Disaster management is a highly complex and sometimes dangerous line of work. Responding to crises and emergencies exposes you to the direct impact of the disaster. To begin working in disaster management is it very important to have the tools and skills the industry needs. These depend on the area of disaster management you want to specialise in.
After gaining a broad understanding of disaster management through a higher education degree, as well as supplementing that knowledge through training, a great way to develop skills in disaster management is through work experience. Expect to begin your career in junior positions and work your way up. However, be sure to learn the disaster management skills more senior roles need whilst working in more entry-level positions.
Ensure You Work Well in a Team
If you want to work in disaster management, its important that you are good at working in a team. When crises occur, emergency responders must work in effective teams to assist those in need. Knowing how to build teams, maintain strong team work and how to rely on teammates are all important reequipments to work in disaster management.
A key part of working well in a disaster response team is knowing the role and responsibilities of all team members. Urgently responding to disasters and emergencies requires everyone to know what they need to do. This means to work in disaster management you must have a very strong understanding of the different parts of a disaster management team.
Disaster management coordinate the oversight of an emergency response. To get into a management role within emergency response it is also required for you to be an effective team leader. Disaster managers need to lead from the front and being able to command the respect of your team in highly difficult scenarios is fundamental to working in disaster management.
Be a Strong Problem Solver
Disasters and crises are highly complex and difficult environments to work. Disaster scenarios pose significant problems to responders and being able to solve these is an important requirement to get into emergency response work. Having strong problem-solving skills, especially under pressure, is key to getting work in disaster management.
Management positions within disaster response are faced with a wide range of challenges they must lead their team to overcome. They also need to work quickly to solve issues as lives can be lost in disasters if the response is too slow. Having the right mind for problem solving will really help you begin a career in disaster management.
Although some problems disasters responders face can be solved using their technical training and expertise, crises zones are highly changeable. This means emergency responders are required to adapt quickly in order to assist people effectively. Being able to change how you work, and solve issues as they arise, are key requirements to working in disaster management.
Be Able to Work Under Pressure
An important requirement to begin a career in disaster management is to be able to operate under pressure. Disaster zones are chaotic, difficult and sometimes dangerous places to work. Lives are at stake and disaster responders need to work effectively. Being able to stay focused and keep cool are crucial to working in disaster zones.
Crises and disasters require urgent responses. The difficulty of working quickly to save lives and limit the impact of an emergency, whilst also protecting your team whilst responding, are key skills to needed in disaster management. The pressure managers can face when working in emergencies can be immense and you need to make sure you can handle this before you begin working in disaster management.
Disaster management requires calculated and effective working in order to respond well and save lives. Although emergency responders are highly trained, being able to work well under pressure is a hard skill to teach. You need to know within yourself that you can handle the difficulties of disaster management if you want to get into the sector and do well.
Be Highly Flexible
Emergencies are continually changing and developing. To get into disaster management work you need to know that flexibility is key to responding to crises. Alongside this, you need to understand how to work in a flexible manor effectively, updating your plans as situations change. Understanding flexible ways to operate is a crucial requirement to working in disaster management.
Crises and disaster zones are chaotic and being able to adapt your work is important if you want to begin a career in disaster management. Emergency workers must operate fast and be able to change how the respond suddenly. This can be a challenge when resources are already committed. Managers in disasters need to understand this.
Another way that you must be flexible to get into disaster management is where and how you work. As disasters change, staff are redeployed and you must be willing to change locations and responses suddenly as your skills are required elsewhere. Flexible working is foundational to getting into disaster management.
Gain Good Analytical and Evaluation Skills
Disasters are highly complex. To get into disaster management work you must have strong analytical skills and be able to quickly assess situations and outcomes well. Being able to analysis how a disaster should be responded to, as well as the risks to people affected and your team, are important requirements for disaster management work.
When responding to a crisis, disaster management workers must assess what staff and equipment are needed. It’s crucial that the correct resources are dedicated to a crisis response. Incorrect deployments can reduce the impact of emergency work, whereas over committing resources can impact responses elsewhere. Strong analytical skills are highly needed to work in disaster management.
Another important requirement to begin a career in disaster management is evaluation skills. Throughout a disaster response, continuous evaluations are needed to ensure the work is achieving it’s aims. After a response is concluded, a full evaluation is also carried out to see its impact. Understanding how evaluations are conducted and their importance are key things needed to work in disaster management.
Focus on Planning and Preparedness
Disaster preparedness is foundational to effective emergency response. To get into disaster management you need get a strong understanding of the core disaster preparedness techniques. You also need to know how to prepare for different types of emergencies as well as the risks involved in failing to prepare. Knowledge of emergency preparedness is an important requirement to work in disaster management.
As well as knowing the tools and methods of disaster preparedness, an important requirement to get into disaster management is to be able to plan effectively. Disaster planning links directly to preparedness and knowing how they link, and the how to plan and prepare for crises is crucial beginning a career in disaster management.
Although no amount of planning or preparedness can cover all disaster scenarios, having a strong understanding of their role in disaster management is key to getting into the sector. Some disaster management experts even specialise in just disaster planning and preparedness because these are such important parts of emergency response.
Learn Strong Security Management
Disasters can be very dangerous places. There are many risks and threats that emergency responders must mitigate for. To get into disaster management work, firstly you must understand the risks of working in crises zones and be prepared to work in sometimes dangerous places. To work in disaster management, you are also required to know how to manage safety and security.
Responding to disasters is hazardous work. Emergency workers need to have extensive training in security to work in disaster management. To get into disaster management you will need to complete specific trainings in how to mitigate risks and ensure safety. Knowing how to manage security, complete risk analyses and respond to security incidents are all key if you want to work in disaster management.
Crises cause significant destabilisations of societies. As a result, disaster zones have increased risks including robbery, armed violence, sexual violence and kidnap. Disasters also pose natural hazards such as flooding, earthquake-after shocks and extreme weather. To work in disaster management, you need to have a strong understanding of how these types of contexts can be navigated.
Get IT Skills
Like all modern professions, to work in disaster management you need IT skills. Knowing how to use basic computer programmes such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook are all required to work in disaster management. Don’t underestimate the need to be proficient in these basic software’s in order to work in emergency response.
A key part of working in disaster response is effective project management. Therefore, to begin a career in disaster management you need to have good knowledge of project cycle management, and the tools it requires. Knowing how to use project management software, even more simple programmes like the Microsoft Office suite, is a key requirement if you want to get into disaster management.
To get into disaster response work you may also need to know specialist software. Many roles in disaster management involve technical equipment and programmes. Knowing what IT skills the emergency response area you want to work in requires is important, as well as developing the IT knowledge needed to do the job.
Disasters have huge impacts on the people they affect. Although disaster workers need to remain calm and clear-headed in their work to respond effectively, it’s important that those working in disaster management are driven by compassion. Knowing why you want get into disaster management is key, and compassion for those affected by crises should be an important motivator.
Disaster management is a difficult career. You will be faced with many challenges and often difficult events. Although good training will help you respond well and help those in need, it is hard to prepare for some of the traumatic situation’s emergency responders can face. Understanding this is an important requitement when beginning a career in disaster management.
Working in disaster management is a highly rewarding career. Dedicating your work to assisting people affected by crises is a fantastic choice. However, it’s important your work in disaster management is driven by compassion for those affected, as well as the excitement and technical skills needed to work in disaster management.
If you want to learn more about the requirements needed to work in disaster management, check-out our list of the top online courses in disaster management here.